Access to good coffee
I love drinking good coffee. I was so excited when I read an article in The Age about Melbourne's best cafés. The Age has also released the Good Café Guide 2011. I bought it as soon as I could. I already had the Melbourne Coffee Review and updated it often. I wanted to see how my favourite cafés were rated. I also wanted to see what new cafés I could try.
Melbourne is special for many reasons. Its coffee is certainly one. I recall my coffee experiences when I first arrived in Melbourne 25 years ago. I was driving from Sydney and my first coffee stop was a disaster. I spotted an espresso machine in a café and went in. When the person serving picked up a jar of instant coffee, my mouth dropped.
Don't you use the machine? I asked.
No, people here don't like it made that way was the reply.
My second coffee stop was along Bridge Road in Richmond. I asked for a flat white. I then asked the man if he used an espresso machine to make the coffee. He looked at me as if I had come from another planet.
But of course! he said in an Italian accent. The coffee was good. So was a cup I had in the city the next day. I had made it to the coffee capital at last.
Lot of changes
There have been a lot of changes in the coffee world since then. People are particularly interested in where the beans come from. Many people only choose "fair trade" coffee which helps ensure better prices for growers. Some roasters now also buy direct from the growers. Coffee aficionados also now seek out coffee from micro-lots. These are exceptionally cared for coffee beans.
There are many different roasts and blends now available. Melbourne does well in the roasting and blending scene. Information on the origin, blend and roast is usually available at good cafes. Brewing the beans has changed too. Techniques include pour-over, syphon, chemex and aeropress. But I still prefer espresso. I have found that people are really interested in learning more about good coffee. They are talking about things like the grind and the best machines. They are also swapping stories of good baristas.
I think coffee has to be good otherwise there is no point in drinking it. But I was disappointed that The Age did not consider accessibility in their reviews of Melbourne's cafés. I decided to review them myself.
I considered ease of entry, whether there was enough room inside, and the availability of an accessible toilet. I was thrilled that many accessible cafes also had great coffee.
Cafés I visited that were accessible and had great coffee:
- Chez Dre in South Melbourne has wheelchair access via 10 Hotham Street through the courtyard
- De Clieu in Fitzroy has an automatically opening glass front door
- Dead Man Espresso in South Melbourne has a good ramp up from the footpath
- Pope Joan in Brunswick East is also good, although the ramp at the entry door is a bit steep
- Seven Seeds in Carlton is accessible but you might need someone to open the door for you.
Other cafés that are accessible and have good coffee:
- Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird in Gardenvale
- The Hardware Societe in Melbourne
- Mr Tulk at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne.
I also found many cafés that had great coffee but were not accessible. Some of the cafés were difficult to get into. I had to settle for take-away. It was also disappointingly common for venues not to have an accessible toilet.
I hope The Age in future considers accessibility for their next guide. It would make it much easier for people with a disability to find a good coffee. I love good coffee so I hope I can find more cafés with good access.